Birmingham & Black Country

Traders relive Birmingham disturbances

Traders hit by disturbances and looting in Birmingham have been given information on how to get financial aid.

The city council is hoping to get £2m in government cash to help traders and businesses affected by the disturbances.

Here some traders give details of what happened to them on the night of 8 August.

Steve Ebanks, 41, was in the office of Cybercandy, a sweet store in Bull Street, Birmingham, when the disorder started.

Image caption Steve Ebanks was inside one of the first stores to be attacked

"We were one of the first to get hit," he said.

"I heard banging and came out to see what was going on. I knew people had been fixing the shop next door up and I thought it must be them.

"I could not see the street because there was so many people there."

Fortunately, the looters could not get into the store but it was a frightening experience, he said.

"There was no answer when I phoned the police and people were trying to get into the shop."

People were trying to smash the window, but it was made of toughened glass, he said.

The police arrived after about 15 minutes, he said, but it had felt like longer.

In the end, Mr Ebanks, the store manager, had to leave it and tried to make his way home.

But, with no cars or buses allowed in or out of the city, he had to walk.

"I had heard people were being mugged," he said.

"It was pretty hair-raising."

The next day he put up a sign on the store - keep calm and candy on.

Aggie Pelekanou, aged 34, works at sandwich shop Montys in Upper Bull Street.

Image caption Aggie Pelekanou said he still feels jittery

He was at home when he got a call from the security guards who work in the office block in which his shop his based.

"He said the window had gone through and there were people in the shop," he said.

"All they could do was fix a camera on the shop for us.

"I felt helpless. I wanted to go there but police said there was no point attempting to come in. They said they were trying to regain control of the city centre, calling people in off leave to help and calling those who had finished their shifts."

He said it was a horrible feeling not knowing what he was going to find when he arrived.

He managed to get into the city centre later that night.

"It was carnage," he said.

"I was frightened. There were several hundred kids in the area of the Victoria law courts."

When he got to the shop, the police were outside.

"I said I needed to get in to board it up.

"I got inside and there was a kid in there."

The looter hid inside the toilets while Mr Pelekanou went to fetch police, and he managed to escape while the shop was empty again.

"I was scared for my life," he said. "I didn't know what he might have with him."

Now, two weeks on, he still feels jittery, he said.

"I just felt so helpless. There is nothing you can do,".

Roxon Doyley, aged 32, runs K and R Fashion in Acocks Green.

Image caption Roxon Doyley: "Facing hardship"

She said the disturbances had cost her at least £15,000 and she felt like she had hit rock bottom.

"I am facing hardship to get my business up and running," she said.

"I could be at risk of closure."

The council's hardship scheme was most welcome, she said.

"I need the help. I think it is good for the council to do something so people can recuperate and get their businesses back on track."

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